ISC brings together leaders from countries competing at Sandhurst

By Brandon O’Connor Assistant Editor

April 18th, 2019 | In Focus, News
  This year, the inaugural International Superintendents Conference was held in conjunction with the Sandhurst competition. The two-day conference brought together senior leaders from West Point, 10 of the visiting countries competing in Sandhurst and leaders from military academies in Indonesia and Poland.  Photo by Bryan Ilyankoff/PAO

The annual Sandhurst Military Skills Competition may be about besting your opponent in the field, but in the days leading up to the competition, the focus was on building partnerships among allies from throughout the world.
This year, cadets from 13 international military academies took part in Sandhurst, including first-time competitors from the Royal Danish Military Academy and the Hellenic Military Academy in Greece.
The international cadets spent the entire week leading up to the competition at the U.S. Military Academy to build partnerships and foster relationships among future leaders from throughout an ever more interconnected world.
While in years past the focus has been almost exclusively on building partnerships between the cadets, this year the inaugural International Superintendents Conference was held in conjunction with the competition.
The two-day conference brought together senior leaders from West Point, 10 of the visiting countries competing in Sandhurst and leaders from military academies in Indonesia and Poland.
“Sandhurst is an excellent opportunity to enhance our relationships with our international partners,” Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, West Point superintendent, said. “This year, in conjunction with Sandhurst, we saw an opportunity to bring senior allies and partners together from various international military academies to share best practices. Our job as academy leaders is to develop cadets into officers and equip them with the knowledge, skills and moral character that is essential to forge the trust, mutual respect and understanding to work in the international community as a leader in the profession of arms.”
The two-day event enabled the academy leaders from throughout the world time to come together and discuss issues and challenges they each face as they work to develop future leaders for their armed forces.
The goal was to enable them to better develop leaders of character by strengthening partnerships with allied countries, which will help current and future cadets be best prepared to operate and lead on the global stage.
“I believe there are many common challenges to developing the future cadets,” Lt. Gen. Mitsuru Noutomi, vice president, National Defense Academy of Japan, said. “We will learn how to solve these common challenges we are facing. Also, every nation has different challenges so given the rapidly changing world, the challenges one country faces may give us an idea to compare challenges we will have.”
The conference included multiple breakout sessions that covered a variety of topics including how to capitalize on talent through cadet selection, the programs available to enrich cadets’ experiences such as the semester abroad program and how to develop character through the West Point Leader Development System.
“I think we have a lot to exchange in terms of knowledge,” Maj. Gen. Gustavo Henrique Dutra de Menezes, commander, Academia Militar das Agulhas Negras in Brazil, said. “It is an honor to be here and receive this kind of invitation … The opportunity to exchange experiences with other superintendents and have our team spend at least a week with other cadets is perfect for everybody.”
Each of the academies represented at the conference face unique challenges as they work to develop future leaders for their armed forces. Some, such as Greece and Canada, are combined forces academies unlike West Point, which only forms Army officers.
Despite the differences, the conference enabled them to all come together and share ideas of how to best prepare military leaders for a changing world that will require current cadets to face challenges vastly different from the generations before them.
“This opens the road. It is the first conference, and I am delighted to be here,” Maj. Gen. Dimitrios Choupis, commander, Hellenic Army Academy, said. “It is historic. For my country, it is a great honor to be here to take all this input from your academy. My country has had an academy for similar years.
“We have 191 years. We have to learn from each other. It is a great opportunity,” he added.
The conference also included opportunities for the visiting superintendents to meet with cadet leaders from West Point as well as international cadets from some of their academics who are studying at West Point and American cadets who have participated in the Foreign Academy Exchange Program.